Winston-Salem, NC

"A pleasant surprise..." and "Your Southern wake-up call" and "City of arts"

Winston-Salem community members work together. (Credit: Visit Winston-Salem)

North Carolina’s city of arts and innovation, Winston-Salem is your Southern wake-up call, a feast for the thinking traveler. Evolved from its traditional Moravian, tobacco and textile roots into a thriving city gaining popularity as the gateway to the Yadkin Valley wine region, Winston-Salem is a city that boasts a rich history and impressive culinary scene reflective of it’s Southern heritage. Winston-Salem is a city of immersion, a place of diversity and activity, commerce and achievement, and local flavors and sips. That’s why it’s the nicest place and visitors return again and again!

Stories About Winston-Salem

Being a city of diversity and immersion, Winston-Salem residents have taken on some big projects to demonstrate how dedicated they are to community and bringing people together. The history of African-Americans in Winston-Salem is deeply rooted in the philosophy that hard work and determination can bring forth transformation and innovation. Since the days of the early Moravian settlers of Salem, the works of African-Americans can be seen in historic structures, schools, banks and in transportation, among many other areas.

One of Winston-Salem’s oldest attractions, Old Salem Museums & Gardens, has recently launched a groundbreaking initiative called Hidden Town Project to research and highlight the history of a community of enslaved Africans and African Americans who lived Salem during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Hidden Town Project tracks the effects of slavery from the inception of Salem itself in 1766 through the Jim Crow Era and into the 21st century. These histories involve the use of slaves to build the town and Salem’s reliance upon their labor for mercantile prosperity. “I think the project illustrates the usefulness of history and how it can impact decisions we make,” said Martha Hartley, Old Salem’s Director of Research and Planning.

Local children help recreate Old Salem. (Credit: Visit Winston-Salem)

Winston-Salem also has a strong history and commitment to supporting women. Since the arrival of the Moravians in 1753, women have been making significant strides in Winston-Salem. Well before Rosie the Riveter and Gloria Steinem, Moravian women were educated, earning their own wages, and had the freedom of choice when it came to marriage. Fast-forward a century to Katharine Reynolds, wife of R.J. Reynolds, visionary and day-to-day general contractor for the Reynolds Estate. In the height of the Roaring 20’s, Katharine was ahead of her time, owning 660 acres by age 31. Today in Winston-Salem, we are home to Salem College, the country’s oldest operating women’s college, as well as a plethora of female-owned restaurants and executive chefs taking the area’s renowned culinary scene to new heights.

The good people from Mrs. Hanes’ Moravian cookies. (Credit: Visit Winston-Salem and Jay Sinclair)

Here are some quotes from locals on why it’s the nicest place:

“The city is so welcoming and supportive, it’s just refreshing. In New York, everyone is so focused on getting their own stuff done, but down here, people understand that it’s not all about them — it’s about trying to give the city the best product possible. It makes you want to do the same thing for others.” — Jackie Alexander

“Everyone talks about the collaborative spirit here. It’s definitely something that sets us apart. Maybe it goes back to the Moravians who founded Salem, but it’s something you notice right away when you start working with other organizations in town. The end goal for everyone here is to make Winston-Salem the best place it can be, and to do that, we know we have to work together.” — Lawren Desai

Jeff’s Story

Winston-Salem is the best big town/small city around. It has the cultural stature of a big city without the traffic. Great health care, moderate housing costs, excellent restaurants/breweries/distilleries and an incredibly vibrant music scene. Downtown is on par with any. And the people are nice! I come in contact with people moving or visiting on a regular basis and they all tell me how people go out other way to help them with recommendations, directions, etc. Of course, its the South, and a you get that there, but we have even converted some of our Yankee friends to the habit of being nice to strangers!

Winston-Salem’s annual pride parade. (Credit: Jeff MacIntosh)
The Pride Parade is a big deal in Winston-Salem, and everyone is welcome! (Credit: Mary Haglund)
A citizenship swearing-in ceremony. (Credit: Jeff MacIntosh)

Jeanette’s Story

The art is alive in Winston-Salem! Old Salem is in the tops for Historic Moravian sight seeing. The music here is fabulous with W-S Symphony, along with the Piedmont Opera. The Reynolds House has awesome exhibits to take in. Many artists give of their talent and time to others. I have been involved with many teachers that have volunteered to share what they know to people who wanted to learn how to paint.

Stephanie’s Story

Winston-Salem has great quality of life, cost of living, diverse culture, preservation of the old and pursuing the new. It also has fabulous restaurants, good-hearted people, and always lots to see and do!

And the people are nice! While clumsily trying to tie a new queen-size boxspring to my luggage rack atop my SUV, an older couple noticed I was alone. They stopped and offered to place it in their truck bed and deliver it to my house! I declined and continued my task but was struck my their kindness.

Winston-Salem has its own, unique symbol for hospitality — a giant coffee pot! (Credit: Kay Calzolari)

Mary’s Story

I own a restaurant in Winston-Salem. Typically, restaurants are very competitive and cutthroat. This is not the case here. All of us who own restaurants, as well as other businesses, on Trade St. (the main downtown street) support each other. This was ultimately proven when our friend who owned Skippy’s Hot Dogs became very ill with brain cancer. His name was Mike Rothman. He became very ill quite suddenly. He had run Skippy’s for years and was deeply embedded in our community. He had to be taken home to Pennsylvania so that his elderly parents could care for him. His restaurant closed. Of course, the hospital bills were huge. So, a bunch of us restaurant-owners banded together and reopened his place for a week. All food and labor was donated. The community really got behind this and we raised well over $100,000 in one week! All the money went towards his medical bills or whatever the family needed. Mike said that he had felt like killing himself, but when the whole town came together, it gave him the boost he needed to fight. Mike managed to stay alive for about a year. Unfortunately, the cancer was too advanced and he passed away. We know for sure that his final time on this earth was made richer by all the people who supported what we did on his behalf. He felt so loved.

The volunteers who ran Skippy’s for a week donated their time. (Credit: Mary Haglund)
A happy customer. (Credit: Mary Haglund)

Cam’s Coffee’s Story

More than coffee: That’s what you’ll get when you step inside Cam’s Coffee Creations, located at 930 South Broad St. in Winston-Salem. Camden Myers, better known as Cam, is the nine-year-old owner of Winston’s new coffee shop. When Cam was born, he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which affects his cognitive and physical abilities. This small business isn’t only making a difference in Cam’s life. The shop’s employees have special needs just like Cam, making it a sustainable business for an underrepresented community. We believe in the every day hero and empowering individuals with varying ability levels. We met a wonderful young man with autism who takes wonderful pictures. We made him our official photographer and we sell his photos in the shop.

Cam’s coffee staff and supporters. (Credit: Latasha Barr-Lewis)

Lindley’s Story

I work at the SECU Family House, a hospital hospitality house in Winston-Salem where adult patients and their caregivers can stay while they are receiving medical treatment at one of our local medical centers. Our guests come from around North Carolina and surrounding states, and many times they are stressed and worried when they walk through our doors. Time and again, I hear guests say that everyone in Winston-Salem has been SO friendly–from the nurses at the hospital, to the parking attendants, to the store clerks in town.

A former guest at the SECU Family House came back to cook for other families. (Credit: Lindley Curtis)

Wherever you go in town, people greet one another and treat each other kindly. With genuine smiles and kind interactions, residents of Winston-Salem make people feel at welcomed. I love living here, and I’m proud of my city! The kindness is real! It’s genuine!